The Empire State building dominates the the Manhattan Skyline, but a good cup of coffee in Midtown is a little harder to spot. In an area of town largely dominated by department stores, Culture Espresso is a little miracle on 38th Street.
Although they recently switched to Heart Coffee Roasters, when I visited, Culture was serving Sightglass Coffee from San Francisco. I’ve been consistently impressed by Sightglass since I visited their roastery, and opportunities to enjoy their coffee on the East Coast are rare. Manhattan cafes are dominated by the Big Three (Intelligentsia, Stumptown, Counter Culture), so it’s nice to have some diversity.
I kicked things off with a cappuccino, my go-to coffee beverage when I haven’t had breakfast. The milk was a little thin, but the Owl’s Howl espresso blend, brewed with a La Marzocco Strada, was tasting delicious. It took me all of four sips to finish.
First Class Filter
I stopped by Culture on the way to CoffeeFest to compete in a latte art competition, so I didn’t want to over-caffeinate. (Pouring latte art for a panel of judges is unnerving enough without caffeine jitters.) But I also couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try some of Sightglass’s filter offerings. Thankfully, my friend Kenny was game to split a V60 of the Rwanda, Tumba, Cocatu. It seemed like a good idea initially, but the coffee was so good it was hard to share. It was sweet and balanced with a really juicy body; the kind of flavor bomb that will convert some skeptics. It’s a shame that Budlight owns the copyright on “drinkability” because this beauty made for some easy sipping. I had a lot of great coffee in New York, this was my favorite cup of filter, hands down.
Culture also has an assortment of fresh baked goods and a sensible selection of cozy seating, a rarity for Manhattan cafes. The combination of great coffee and an elegant space makes Culture an oasis for weary tourists and townies alike.